An aging brooklyn artist, his young assistant, and blind friend arrive by rusted retro car; a Puerto Rican woman and her teenage grandson arrive on foot, lead by a rattling grocery cart; a hyperactive twenty-something and his stoned companion leave a Bushwick loft to navigate the subway. Familiar faces and converging philosophies meet to take what others deem unworthy of consumption. The reward of a free and delicious discovery activates a ritual adventure–a night of extraordinary harvest.
Every evening, long after rush hour, a series of dumpsters are rolled out onto the sidewalks in front of a large grocery store in Brooklyn, NY. A small crowd materializes to await a bounty of discarded food. As employees passively wheel out containers of expired, nearly expired, blemished, dented, smushed, or seemingly perfect edibles, the gleaners rummage through clear plastic bags and often salvage enough food to last a week or more. The foodstuffs can be found on the shelves of the supermarket just hours before. And if not for the dumpster divers, these “spoils” are destined for a landfill.
Emulating the tradition of American Direct Cinema, filmmaker Alex Mallis captures intimate portraits of the divers, illuminating a practice as old as agriculture. Mallis’ fly-on-the-wall access to these Brooklynites bring us along for a journey through the culture of dumpster diving, offering an unvarnished glimpse into one night of urban harvest.
Alex Mallis lives in Brooklyn,. His films have screened at IFF Boston, Hot Docs, DOCNYC, New Orleans FF, UnionDocs, and on The Documentary Channel and BBC News.